January 7, 2008

Year End List

Hello BQT friends,
As the DJ and musical guru of The Big Quiz Thing, I'd like to share my list of my favorite records from 2007. They're not all 2007 releases, and it’s certainly not a critic’s list. It’s just what I liked or disliked last year. Enjoy.

Though I keep hearing of things that I missed this year (MGMT, Battles), I doubt I’ll hear anything else that will make this list at the 11th hour. So another year passes, another list passed around. Happy reading/listening. Sorry in advance to go on so long about my favorite album this year. And sorry for the length...I guess I got carried away.


A-List:
#1


Of Montreal Hissing Fauna, Are You The Destroyer?
“…Nihilists with good imaginations...”


Rarely do indie rock records combine spouse separation, severe nervous breakdowns, and Nordic references; in fact, I can't think of any. Sure, Kevin Barnes’ voice gets shrill, and the false Brit accent gets annoying. But the psychedelic pop harmonies are perfect. I listened to the hell out of this record.

Be warned, this record takes some getting used to. I had resisted this band for years; their brand of sugar-coated indie pop was never to my liking...so sweet it made my teeth hurt. Really. On my first listen to Hissing Fauna…, their 10th(?) release, I was still skeptical until about the third listen, when its brilliance hit me. As you listen closer to the lyrics, the juxtaposition of bitterness and dejection to the sunny, bright melodies might surprise you…but in a good way. Since I never listened to them before this year, I can't comment on how Hissing Fauna... compares.

There are no subtleties in his acrimonious songwriting, presumably directed toward his separated wife, nor does he make any attempts to hide his clinical depression: “I found myself on the verge of a nervous breakdown while living in Norway…” he sings on “A Sentence Of Sorts In Kongsvinger.” He is as brutally honest as one can be about the past year, while setting the stories to infectious tunes. Isn’t that what comprises the best songs anyway?

"Gronlandic Exit"
**If I managed this band, this song would be in a commercial by now. A perfect bass line by which to sell Gap jeans or Toyotas. I guess we'd have to leave out the parts that describe Barnes' slow descent into isolation and panic attacks, while lambasting religion as a crutch…those parts not so much a sales tool.

“The Past Is a Grotesque Animal”
**A 12-minute stream of conciousness where Barnes lashes out, occasionally repeating particularly acrid and personal lyrics with emphasis: “But at least I authored my own disaster.” At whom is this torrent of resentment? Who is the “you?” I suppose his ex-wife and the mother of his child. Though, maybe his parents. Maybe a disloyal friend. What does it matter?

“Bunny Ain’t No Kind Of Rider”
**A story about fighting off drunk girls and gay men at a jam-band party, as best I can figure.

“We Were Born The Mutants Again With Leafling”
**I haven’t dissected these lyrics as much, but I really like the song.

The rest:

Datarock Datarock
**Norwegian disciples of the “new rave” indie electronica. Technically this album was released in 2005, but it just found its way to me this year.

Robert Plant & Alison Krauss Raising Sand
**A very pretty album. The lovely-voiced Alison Krauss is perfectly complemented by the Golden God.

LCD Soundsystem
Sound Of Silver
**Declared in 2005 as one of the “coolest people on the planet,” James Murphy’s follow-up isn’t as fun or silly, but just as smart and clever. Includes sarcasm and a 5-minute + lament to NY’s loss of cool: “New York I Love You, But You’re Bringing Me Down.”

Peter, Bjorn, & John
Writer’s Block
**While technically released in 2006 overseas, this still managed to make a strong showing this year. The ubiquitous “Young Folks” hasn’t even gotten too annoying yet. A solid, enjoyable album.

B-List

Feist The Reminder

**I’m sorely tempted to leave this off after finding it on the Blender 100 Greatest Indie Rock Albums list (WTF?). But I did enjoy this record this year, from time to time, though I can’t imagine I’ll be listening to it next year…

Kings of Leon Because of the Times
A pretty good album, a GREAT live show.

The Brakes Give Blood
**Overall mediocre, but contains one great, 1:37 song: “Ring A Ding Ding”

The Ponys Turn The Lights Out
**I really dug The Ponys for a while, but it just didn’t stand the test of time.

Wilco Sky Blue Sky
**The first half is a pretty decent record. Then it loses me big time.

Dr. Dog We All Belong
**Oddball pop that can appeal to fans of both 60’s pop revivalists and jam bands.

Best Discoveries--More Garage

The Seeds (thanks to Bob Irwin)
**Best song: “Pushing Too Hard”


Best Shoegaze Song

The Besnard Lakes “Devastation”


Best Discoveries Carryover from last year

NRBQ
Still a very cool band.


Best album from 2003 that I still listen to all the time

Lilys Precollection
**I can’t seem to get through a week without listening to this album. The Lilys are the coolest. And I just found out Higgins is the new Lilys backing band? Oh happy day.

Best Re-Discoveries


Komeda The Genius of Komeda
**Believe the title. This album really is genius.

Slint Spiderland
See "Good Morning Captain"
**A textured, chilling, and ultimately exhaustive tribute to Coleridge's "The Rime of the Ancient Mariner"


Best In Shows:

Black Mountain, Mercury Lounge
**A completely hypnotic show from one of my favorite 2005 bands. Black Mountain is an unbelievable live show.

Porter Wagoner, Joe’s Pub
**R.I.P. Porter...amiable, humble, and clearly thrilled to be performing.

Spiritualized, Apollo Theatre
**A clean and redeemed J. Spaceman (does he even call himself that anymore?) with strings and gospel.

THE END

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